Shawarmarama, Platform @ The Arches, Glasgow

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Hi hi hi hi hi, hi.

Once upon a time there was a nightclub. This nightclub lived below a mainline railway station, and had many adventures. Then, one day, the Police got involved and said “Excuse me, Mr Nightclub, but you can’t have any adventures any more”, and shortly afterwards it shut down. This made the nightclub and all it’s friends very sad.

The nightclub sat there, closed, for an eternity (Ed – Two Years). Some people who liked eating food took pity on the poor, abandoned venue, and reopened it as a space where people could get street food, quality ales, and pick-er-nick tables.

Or something, you get the picture, the end.

WAIT. That’s not the end at all! I’ve got to review this place. Let’s try that one again.

The Arches was shut in 2015, shortly after it’s evening license was curtailed to midnight following complaints from the police. This made the venue financially unviable, and it closed shortly afterwards. The venue had hoped to continue trading in it’s daytime guise as a restaurant and general arts space, but the effective cancellation of the nightclub saw such a dent in it’s income that it had no alternative but to enter administration, then close.

Fast forward to February 2018, and the restaurant and bar aspect, at least, gets resurrected. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 12pm to 10pm (Sundays close at 6pm), Platform at Argyle Street Arches host some of Central Scotland’s finest street food stalls, offering Indian food from Babu, wood fired pizza from Box Office, a dude who’s name I forget that sells tempura battered prawns and calls them shrimp like Americans do (Shrimpwreck?), “Sliders” (not the criminally underrated Quantum Leap-esque sci-fi show off of the 90s, rather a term for miniature burgers, it turns out), and as of yesterday (3 August 2018), shawarma.

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Here we are, literally 15 minutes after the place opened, and there’s a queue. Shawarmarama have built up somewhat of a following, having appeared previously at similar food-fest Dockyard Social prior to rocking up at Platform. I gave the menu a quick once over – the usual standard choice of Lamb, Chicken and Falafel, so I  decided to go for the “Sumac and Cumin marinated Chicken”. In the interests of openness and that, I will fully admit that I’ve just had to google Sumac, and was slightly alarmed to read that the fourth most popular question on that site is “Is Sumac poison?”. Ominous, but fortunately the answer was no.

After not all that long, the chap in the picture took my order and thanked me for waiting. I was confused. You NEVER get that – certainly not in this town. Note to other Glasgow area vendors: up your game (looking at you, Shawarma King). This guy proceeded to talk me through the wrap process in forensic detail – starting with the muhammara, a capsicum and walnut spread similar to hoummus, followed by the standard salad. The flatbread was filling up nicely, which made me wonder if there would be any room for the meat. Then, the killer question – “would you like a chilli?”

THANK YOU. That’s all I ask for on this site – the option of a pickled chilli. I’ll be honest, the gentlemen serving me did rather sell it to me (“they’re quite fiery, these ones”), but as regular Shawarma Police dot com regulars will know, I eschew all forms of pickled chillis on account that they’re horrendous. A near mishap then occurred – this was misinterpreted as a dislike of spice (wrong!) and the vendor skipped the mango-based hot sauce. Don’t worry, this was added in at my insistence.

At this point, the wrap was passed over to another guy who’s role it was to add the meat from the grill, fold the wrap and put it in the sandwich press. What I thought impressive, despite the fact that the queue behind me must have grown to about 10 or so by the time I was served, was the fact that they weren’t rushing the orders. This is key, especially when it comes to putting the wrap in the sandwich press – not only does a minute or so bind the wrap together, it also heats the fillings so the flavours develop and combine. No sarcastic five-seconds-in-the-press-and-you’re-done here, guys! (looking at you, Shawarma King).

The result was this:IMG_20180803_124502430

The chicken was succulent and mildly spiced, and it was sublimely complimented by the mixture of salad (cucumber, tomatoes, red cabbage, lettuce, and if I’m not mistaken, a sprinkling of mint) and dressing (a yoghurt based sauce to cool and a hot mango chilli sauce to sweeten and spice). They managed to hit the golden ratio in terms of meat to salad, and even cut the thing to serve it in an Instagram-friendly manner!*

This will normally set you back £7, but when I went the Platform-wide “Fiver Friday” offer was in effect – any main + a soft drink (no Tizer, grr) for HAVE A GUESS HOW MUCH, IT’S CALLED FIVER FRIDAY, between 12pm and 3pm. Exceptional food and exceptional service at an exceptional price.

So here’s an exceptional score.

Shawarmarama, Platform At Argyle Street Arches, under Glasgow Central Station.
£7, £5 with a drink Friday 12-3pm

11/10.

That’s right, I managed to get to the end of a review for a place called Shawarmarama without making a “ding dong” joke.

*oh yeah, we’re on Instagram now. https://www.instagram.com/theshawarmapolice/ and that.

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